Diabetes is a condition that affects your metabolism. However, each type affects your metabolism in a different way, and the treatment plans differ depending on type, severity, and other health factors.
Types of diabetes & main symptoms
There are three main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. When your body breaks down sugars and carbohydrates, it produces glucose, or what your cells use to create energy. However, in order for the cells to use glucose, cells also need a hormone called insulin found in your bloodstream.
When you have diabetes, your body either does not produce enough insulin, produces too much insulin, cannot use the insulin it produces, or some combination of these things. Since your body is not efficiently using the glucose, it builds up in your blood causing problems.
Symptoms vary depending on the type of diabetes and its severity. Generally, the most common symptoms include urinating often, feeling very thirsty, feeling very hungry even though you are eating, extreme fatigue, blurry vision, cuts or bruises that are slow to heal, weight loss even though you are eating more (type 1), and tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands or feet (type 2).
Tips for managing diabetes
1. Stick to your schedule to test your blood sugar
When creating a diabetes treatment plan with your doctor, you will create a schedule to test your blood sugar. Generally, this will take place several times throughout the day. It is important to stay on track. This information is vital to prevent severe decreases or increases in your blood sugar which can have very negative side effects.
Beyond the regular schedule to test your blood sugar, some doctors recommend you add an extra check. This check should be at a random time, outside of your schedule, and change from day to day. Spot checking will help you gain a better sense of how your blood sugar levels are doing.
2. Use real-time information to plan your meals and exercise
Keeping regular track of your blood sugar allows you to modify your diet and exercise routine to maintain healthy levels. For example, exercise can lower your blood sugar, while eating certain foods like carbs can raise it. Talk to your doctor about creating diet and exercise plans you can modify alongside changes in your blood sugar levels.
3. Keep a food diary
Diet is one of the most important tools for diabetes management. Keeping a food diary will allow you to stay on track of your diabetes treatment plan, including what foods you should most closely monitor. For example, people with diabetes should generally monitor their intake of carbohydrates, as these can sharply increase blood sugar levels.
If you keep a food diary, then you can review what you ate on days with healthy blood sugar levels and those where your levels may have fluctuated more than normal. This will allow you to see trends and adjust your diet accordingly.
4. Make exercise an everyday activity
Because exercise can decrease blood sugar levels, some people with diabetes tend to avoid it. However, this is the wrong approach. You should think of exercise itself as medicine, a tool that can help you regulate your blood sugar levels. Instead of staying away from it, talk your doctor and create a plan for a healthy way to exercise.
Beyond helping with your diabetes, exercise makes you happier. Exercise releases endorphins which boost your mood.
5. Manage your stress
Managing stress is an important task for every person, but people with diabetes need to take extra care. In people with diabetes, stress can cause glucose levels to rise which can have dangerous side effects.
Eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep all help to reduce stress. If you are experiencing a stressful time in your life due to family issues, finances, or some other reason, then consider seeking help from your doctor or a counselor to create a plan for stress management.
6. Be prepared for an emergency
No matter how well you manage your diabetes, there are bound to be times when it gets out of control. You should prepare for these moments as well.
You should have basic supplies on hand at all times. This should include extra medication, extra items to check your blood sugar (glucose meter with extra batteries, test strips, and lancets), and a piece of paper with your diagnosis, treatment plan (medications and when you take them), and emergency contact. You should also have snacks in case your blood sugar drops, food and water, and first-aid essentials.
It is advised that people with diabetes wear a medical ID at all times. In the case of a hypoglycemic episode, you may enter a state where you are unable to explain your diabetes diagnosis and treatment plan. The medical ID will explain symptoms to respondents, police officers, and medical personnel so that they can provide you the proper treatment as quickly as possible.
7. Tell your coworkers, friends, and family about your diabetes
Managing diabetes is difficult, and you do not have to do it alone. Telling coworkers, friends, and family will allow them to support you in daily life as well as times of need. You may also consider building a community with other people who experience diabetes. Most communities have support groups of this type. Ask your doctor to find out about support groups near you.
For more information
Diabetes is difficult to manage, but you do not have to manage it alone. For more information about the condition or managing it, contact ARCare at (866) 550-4719.
We can also help you create a diabetes self-management plan. Our diabetes management program includes individualized assessment, nutrition education, meal planning, exercise classes, and support group meetings.